War on Women Report: Trump’s Mistreatment of Women Is His Downfall; Louisiana Labels Abortion Medication a Dangerous Substance; Mississippi’s Anti-Trans Bathroom Law

U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism is on the rise, and democracy is on the decline. But day after day, we stay vigilant in our goals to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. The fight is far from over. We are watching, and we refuse to go back. This is the War on Women Report.

Since our last report… 

+ Harvey Weinstein made his first appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court after his 2020 conviction was overturned. Present in the courtroom was Jessica Mann, one of the primary accusers in the case, who previously testified to being raped by Weinstein. Prosecutors said they are ready to retry Weinstein in the fall and that “it remains a strong case.” 

+ Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) chair Martin Gruenberg announced he will resign once a successor is confirmed for his position. Gruenberg faced bipartisan criticism in a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee this past month, following a Wall Street Journal investigation into the pervasive “patriarchal, insular and risk-averse culture” at the FDIC and management’s “insufficient and ineffective” response, according to the commissioned law firm. 

+ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) placed the Right to Contraception Act (RTCA) on the Senate calendar for a vote in June. The RTCA would establish a federal right to contraception, which is currently recognized as a constitutional right per the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision. The bill functions in opposition to increasing extremist political efforts across the country aimed at stripping away reproductive rights and healthcare. A spokesperson for Americans for Contraception, Cris Fleming, called the RTCA “a vital step to protect the rights of individuals to make their own healthcare decisions … in the face of relentless attacks on reproductive freedoms.” 

+ The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected attempts from an anti-abortion activist group to retry Doe v. Minnesota, a 2022 abortion rights lawsuit, officially concluding the case. This decision protects the right to abortion in the state by permanently blocking numerous restrictions. The ruling “ensures that pregnant people can access abortion care in Minnesota with more dignity and less political meddling than they could have five years ago,” said Tanya Pellegrini, senior counsel at the Lawyering Project.

Monday, May 6: First Quarter Legislative Round-Up

+ Attacks on contraception access, IVF, sex education, gender-affirming care and more are continuing to spread across the United States, according to a policy analysis of legislation in the first quarter of 2024 by The Guttmacher Institute.

  • At the start of this month, 14 states were enforcing total abortion bans, with seven restricting access to the procedure at earlier times than what was constitutional under Roe v. Wade
  • States continue to attempt to propose strict abortion laws, such as Florida’s six-week abortion ban or Arizona’s effort to uphold an 1864 abortion law that would completely illegalize the procedure. 
  • State legislatures are also continuing to fund anti-abortion centers, or crisis pregnancy centers, which deceive individuals seeking reproductive care and instead provide misinformation and pressure against abortions. In the first quarter, 12 states introduced bills to provide funding to these centers, allocating between $200,000 and $30 million to these organizations. 
  • There have also been increased attacks on in vitro fertilization (IVF) in hopes of enshrining fetal and embryonic legal rights while restricting reproductive healthcare. 

+ State legislatures are also attacking sex education and contraception and abortion access for minors, with many bills introducing parental notification or consent requirements to receive care or information.

  • As of this month, 36 states across the country required parental consent to receive an abortion
  • Additionally, 28 states have restricted students’ ability to have a comprehensive sex education. 
  • Nearly half of states have adopted gender-affirming care bans, with more than 35 bills regarding the issue being carried over from the previous legislative session. 

Tuesday, May 7: Mississippi’s Legislature Passed a Transgender Bathroom Ban

+ Mississippi passed a law banning transgender individuals from using “all public education buildings,” such as bathrooms and changing rooms, that match their gender identity. These structures include public schools, colleges or any facilities belonging to such institutions, such as fraternities and sororities. 

The inclusion of Greek Life organizations into the bill follows a Wyoming U.S. District Court decision allowing a transgender woman to stay in her sorority. In the lawsuit, six members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sought to reevaluate Artis Langford’s acceptance into the university’s chapter because of her identity as a transgender woman. In Judge Alan Johnson’s decision, he said it was not within his power to “override how the private, voluntary organization defined a woman and order that she not belong.” 

Additionally, the Mississippi law includes a “private right of action” clause, which allows cisgender individuals to sue their institutions to prevent transgender people from using facilities that align with their gender identity.

Mississippi is classified as a “high priority to achieve basic equality” state by the Human Rights Campaign

Thursday, May 9: No Exceptions to Louisiana Abortion Ban for Minors Who Become Pregnant From Rape or Incest

+ The Louisiana House Committee on Criminal Justice voted 7-4 to reject House Bill 164, which would have granted persons 16 and younger the right to an abortion if they became pregnant after sexual assault. All seven votes against the legislation were cast by Republicans who voted against the bill. 

The rejected legislation was drafted by Rep. Delisha Boyd (D-New Orleans) to protect minors attacked by older men. Many gave emotional testimonies in support of the proposal—such as Audrey Wascome, an anti-violence advocate who still struggles with injuries from her childhood sex abuse carried out by her grandparents. Dr. Neelima Sukhavasi, a Baton Rouge OB-GYN, also testified that she and her colleagues have delivered babies for pregnant teenagers as young as 13 since the abortion ban went into effect two years ago.

Demonstrators gather in front of the Supreme Court during oral arguments in the case of the FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine on March 26, 2024. The case challenges the 20-plus-year legal authorization by the FDA of mifepristone, a commonly used abortion medication. (Anna Rose Layden / Getty Images)

Thursday, May 16: Reports of Upside-Down American Flag Flying at Justice Alito’s House

+ The New York Times reported that an upside-down American flag flew at the Alexandria, Va., home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Jan. 17, 2021. Photographic evidence was obtained of the flag, a reference to the Stop the Steal campaign, aimed at pressuring officials into overturning the 2020 presidential election results. Online users urged Trump supporters to flip it and rioters flaunted the flag at the Jan. 6 insurrection. Alito claims his wife donned the upside-down flag in a neighborly dispute, but judicial experts say the move reveals political bias and violates ethics.

Pending Supreme Court cases center around the storming of the Capitol: whether or not Trump is immune from prosecution—shaping his accountability in Jan. 6 events—and if rioters can be charged with obstruction. 

Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas actively participated in Stop the Steal. The ethics code for lower courts, recently adopted by the Supreme Court, emphasizes the necessity of judges remaining impartial, particularly regarding political matters they may encounter. However, Alito will likely face no repercussions for his involvement, as “the Supreme Court serves as the arbiter of its own behavior.” 

“Supreme Court justices are supposed to be the ultimate guardians of our Constitution, yet now we know of two who are sympathetic to violent attempts to overturn our democracy,” said Alliance for Justice president Rakim H.D. Brooks. 

Friday, May 24: Louisiana Is the First State to Classify Abortion Drugs as Controlled Dangerous Substances 

+ Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) signed a bill to classify abortion-inducing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol as “controlled and dangerous substances,” just one day after legislation passed in the state Senate. Louisiana is the first state to designate abortion pills this way, making possession without a prescription a crime that is punished by jail time and fines. The law will take effect Oct. 1. 

The bill equates mifepristone and misoprostol to Schedule IV drugs, a categorization that includes Xanax and Ambien. Schedule IV drugs possess some potential for abuse and dependence, despite extensive research validating the safety of abortion pills and approval from the FDA. Mifepristone and misoprostol are also prescribed for alternative purposes: during miscarriage and to prevent ulcers. Hundreds of doctors opposed the legislation for fear it would hinder safely treating patients and obtaining the drugs. The state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. 

The first of its kind, the law sets a dangerous precedent for other states. Nina Raneses, deputy national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, called Louisiana “the staging ground for Trump’s war against our freedom.” 

Friday, May 24: Trump Suggests He May Allow State Restrictions on Contraception if Elected; Backtracks Amidst Criticism

+ Former President Donald J. Trump claimed that he was going to have a policy regarding contraceptive restrictions drafted and released imminently, in an interview with KDKA, a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh. He added that supporters would find the proposal “interesting” and “smart.” Unable to give a clear stance on his views on contraception laws, Trump continued, “You know, things really do have a lot to do with the states, and some states are going to have different policies than others.” After facing backlash, the former president blamed the commentary on a Democrat fabricating a lie, stating that he “would never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control.”

Now, all eyes are on Trump to announce his stance on the Comstock Act, a long dormant but still on-the-books law that prohibits the mailing of abortion medications, such as mifepristone. This 19th-century-era law has been revived by anti-abortion activists in 2024 attempting to build off the fall of Roe v. Wade.

Friday, May 24: Leading Anti-Abortion Doctor Appointed to Serve on the Texas Maternal Mortality Committee

+ Dr. Ingrid Skop, one of the U.S.’ leading anti-abortion activists, was appointed to a health committee that reviews maternal deaths in Texas. Many fear Skop’s position on the committee will compromise the group’s ability to examine the impact of the state’s abortion restriction law on deaths after pregnancy.

“This appointment speaks volumes about how seriously certain state leaders are taking the issue of maternal mortality,” said Kamyon Conner, executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, an abortion assistance group. “It is another sign that the state is more interested in furthering their anti-abortion agenda than protecting the lives of pregnant Texans.” 

Skop recently served a plaintiff in the lawsuit overseen by the Supreme Court seeking to revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a drug used for abortions. In addition to testifying against abortion in other cases in Texas, she called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “a victory in the battle, but not the end of the war” and advocates for laws that would force minors who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest as young as 9 to carry to term. 

Tuesday, May 28: What Plank 35 of the Texas GOP State Convention Means for Abortion

+ In their 2024 Temporary Platform and Resolution, the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) drafted a plank, or declaration speaking to specific issues, arguing for a secured right to life for preborn children, including fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses, from the moment of fertilization.

Plank 35, named “Equal Protection for the Preborn,” claims that abortion violates the U.S. Constitution “by denying such persons equal protection under the law.” Those seeking to receive or administer abortions would be found guilty by law of homicide. This is not the first time a state has classified the procedure as murder; South Carolina and Georgia passed equal protection policies in 2023 that did just that. 

The RPT also adopted two other anti-abortion planks at their 2024 convention.

  • Plank 217 urges the Texas legislature to completely abolish abortion and “nullify any and all federal statutes, regulations, orders and court rulings that would deny these rights.” Like Plank 35, this declaration claims abortion violated the U.S. Constitution under the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. However, it adds that “effective tools” should be adopted to ensure the enforcement of anti-abortion laws when “doctors of district attorneys fail to do so.”
  • Plank 218, named Inviolability of Life and Fundamental Right to Life, claims “all innocent human life must be respected from fertilization to natural death,” and clarifies that the RPT opposes practices of corrupt human DNA, such as human and animal, that does not “respect the sanctity and uniqueness of human life.”

Thursday, May 30: Trump’s History With Women Is Often His Downfall

The former president was found guilty on 34 felony counts in the trial over falsifying business records.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 30: People hold signs after former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all counts at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024 in New York City. Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

“For now, what we know is that Trump’s history with women is what has come closest to derailing his political future time and time again. From the 2016 discovery of the “grab ’em by the pussy” video to Carroll’s victory to this verdict—this is his weak spot,” wrote Emma Hinchliffe in Fortune’s Broadsheet e-newsletter. “Whether that matters enough to voters, we’ll find out this year.”

Up next:

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

About and

Rachel Lonker is an editorial intern for Ms. from the Washington metropolitan area. She is a rising senior at Tulane University, where she majors in political science and communication with a minor in public health. Her areas of interest include reproductive justice, gender-based violence and the criminal justice system.
Abigail Ramirez is an editorial intern for Ms. from Los Angeles. She is a rising senior at the University of Missouri double majoring in constitutional democracy and journalism, with minors in history and political science. She has particular interests in women’s history, advocacy and communications.